It’s not everyday you get taught how to make a proper cake or truffles by a master in the field, but that was exactly what was on offer at Cake Boy, tucked away in the steel and glass playground of the renovated Battersea Reach for a pre-showing of Eric Lanlard’s upcoming P&O Cruises collaboration.
The award-winning pastry chef and chocolate expert offers regular chocolate work and cake decorating classes throughout the year at Cake Boy, and his patisserie pedigree is indisputable – only Lanlard can turn an ordinary eclair into a work of art – so who better to set sail with for a masterclass in The Cookery Club – the first cookery school that can be found on board a British cruise ship.
In fact, if you take a Food & Wine cruise on P&O’s ships sometime in the next few years you won’t just be shown how to make the perfect ganache torte by and award-winning patissier like the king of the macaroon Eric Lanlard, you’ll have the chance to go sailing with one of a fleet of newly-resident food experts as part of the cruise liner’s Food Heroes concept.
Lanlard is part of a nautical-cum-culinary roster that also includes Atul Kochhar, James Martin, wine expert Olly Smith and the formidable Marco Pierre White – with whom Foodepedia’s founder Nick Harman has recently been sailing to test his high seas cheffing metal.
My taster masterclass in the candy floss pink and prussian blue surrounds of Cake Boy was a slightly smaller affair than the 24-person maximum that P&O guests can expect on board, but it gave a flavour of things to come from the chef who’s famous for once working his way through the great Carême’s ancient ‘grande cuisine’ cookbook.
Lanlard in person is full of smiling chocolate-fuelled energy and determined to fix your cake-related woes offering advice on everything from cracked macaroons to flat sponges and, half-way through learning how to layer the perfect raspberry ganache cake using ladles of thick, creamy chocolate and some pre-made (I’m not sure Lanlard trusted a bunch of journalists enough to let us loose in his chocolate prep stations) chocolate swirls and scrolls, it’s obvious why he was top choice to join this new cruise and food concept.
Aside from being one of the most personable chefs I have ever met – he didn’t even flinch when I started squeezing my piping bag full of buttery sweet hazelnut goo onto a spoon destined for my mouth instead of my dark chocolate truffle casings – there isn’t much Lanlard doesn’t know about sweet treats and desserts, just take a look at some of the impossibly pretty jewelled cakes and tarts that cover every surface at Cake Boy for evidence of the breadth and depth of his craft.
Alongside his masterclasses, guests will be served an orginal afternoon tea in the fine dining restaurant Epicurean that’s been created by Lanlard especially for the seafaring occasion. Forget scones and clotted cream and think more along the lines of Persian candy floss, lychee pearls and air that’s been spritzed with Earl Grey perfume. Post ganache cake making and delicate, hazelnut praline truffle piping, we were given a taster of this intriguing afternoon tea, which could probably be summed up in two words: sinfully good.
My favourite image: me trying to ram my pretty cake into a box with all my usual delicacy and dexterity!
Eric Lanlard’s inaugural voyage sets sail in March 2015, see the P&O website for dates, booking information and more detail on their series of Food & Wine themed cruises.
Article originally written for the lovely chaps at Foodepedia.co.uk